Research Fellow - Decision Research Group, Management Division

+44 (0) 113 343 2685
Staff, Centre for Decision Research (CDR), Management
1.23 Charles Thackrah
How individuals communicate and behave in the face of uncertain and complex challenges

PhD in Psychology, University of Konstanz, Germany, 2016

MSc. in Psychology, Alps Adria University Klagenfurt

Prior to joining the Centre for Decision Research in Leeds, I was based at the University of Burgundy, France; the University of Klagenfurt, Austria; the Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin; and the University of Konstanz, Germany. Here, I studied health and environmental risk perception and communication, as well as related behaviours. I also explored from a game theory perspective how and when different incentives motivate fair sharing behaviour.

My current focus is on human judgements and decisions in the environmental and climate domain. This includes how individuals perceive climate evidence - what shapes their understanding of (uncertain) scientific knowledge. I also explore mechanisms of pro-environmental behaviours. Inspired by the ecological rationality framework from the field of decision sciences, my research goal is to improve the intuitive design of decision environments in order to help individuals make better informed decisions when facing complex challenges like climate change.

My research has been funded by grants from the University of Klagenfurt, and the Max Planck Society. The German Academic Exchange Service and the Society for Risk Analysis-Europe have supported me with with travel stipends to various conferences.


I study how individuals communicate and behave in the face of uncertain and complex challenges like climate change. This involves transparent and simple communication of scientific evidence, such as more or less uncertain probability estimates. Such evidence is often communicated in ambiguous ways through various numerical and graphical formats. Those can easily be misunderstood, either because more general underlying beliefs shape how they are interpreted or because displays are misleading, unclear or too complex. My aim is both to identify communication formats that are easy to understand and transparent and to find out which individual characteristics (like numeracy, graph literacy, environmental values and political attitudes) shape perception of (uncertain) climate and medical evidence.

Examples of my work include: the role of framing effects in verbal communications of uncertain climate evidence (Kause, Townsend & Gaissmaier, ongoing); a theoretical framework involving a sampling approach to uncertainty in the environmental domain (Galesic, Kause & Gaissmaier, 2016); and tests of graphical displays of different uncertain predictions on medical treatment outcomes (Kause & McDowell, ongoing).

I further explore mechanisms of change towards climate-friendly behaviours (Kause, Galesic & Gaissmaier, under revision). At the same time, I have a strong interest in real-world applications of my findings in order to enhance better informed decisions in face of climate change. I explore decision environments in order to delineate simple and effective rules of thumb (‚prescriptive heuristics‘) that help individuals decreasing the climate impact of their daily decisions (Kause, Jacobs & Fleischhut, ongoing). My research is inspired by the research program on fast and frugal heuristics and the ecological rationality framework.

Prior to joining the Centre for Decision Research and the School of Earth and Environment in 2017, I completed my doctoral studies at the Center for Adaptive Behaviour and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute fur Human Development in Berlin and the University of Konstanz, Germany. My PhD involved developing a theoretical account for different kinds of uncertainties individuals face in the environmental domain, communication and perception of uncertain climate predictions as well as how social norm feedback motivates change towards more climate friendly behaviours in daily life.


Journal articles

Kause, A., Vitouch, O. & Glueck, J. (in press). How selfish is a thirsty man? A pilot study on comparing sharing behavior with primary and secondary rewards. PLOs One.

Galesic, M., Kause, A., & Gaissmaier, W. (2016). A sampling framework for uncertainty in individual environmental decisions. Topics in Cognitive Science, 8, 242-258. doi: 10.1111/tops.12172

Book chapters

Kause, A., Prinz, R., Gaissmaier, W., & Wegwarth, O. (2014).  Risikokompetenz von Ärzten und Patienten.  In K. Hurrelmann & E. Baumann (Eds.),  Handbuch Gesundheitskommunikation (pp. 424–439).  Bern: Huber.

Bortoleto, A.P., Kause, A., & Katsikopoulos, K. (2014). The way forward for waste prevention research. In: A.P. Bortoleto (ed.). Waste Prevention Policy and Behaviour. New Approaches to Reducing Waste Generation and its Environmental Impacts (pp. 168-187). London, GB: Routledge.

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